What if the best art gallery in the world was a town in Provence? All summer, until 27 September, Rencontres Photographiques will be inviting us to explore the pretty little streets of Arles. And what with exhibitions and cocktails, traditional markets and trendy open-air cafés, your visit is only just beginning.
See it before it disappears: Arles’ Chiringuito
This summer, and this summer only, this pop-up open-air bar will be bringing a taste of summer to the town centre and its exhibitions with its cocktails and gourmet tacos. Perfect for kicking back and browsing the Rencontres guide.
65 Boulevard Emile Combes, July to September.
Start your day like a local at the Saturday morning market
Follow your nose along almost two miles of stalls selling local produce from Provence and the Camargue. Still need to have breakfast? Even better: pick up some freshly baked brioche from the organic bakery, some tapenade from the stand opposite the Jules César Hotel, and a delicious smoothie from Café d’Autrefois.
Boulevard des Lices, every Saturday morning.
Always a classic: the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation
Every year, this museum presents a number of canvasses from Arles’ most famous resident, alongside contemporary pieces. Before you leave, be sure to pass by the terrace for a quick selfie with Mont Ventoux and the rooftops of Arles in the background.
35ter rue du Docteur Fanton.
To stop you melting: a Soleilais sorbet
Summertime in Arles is hot. Really hot. Thankfully, the best ice cream shop in town is right next to the Rencontres Information Point. The only problem is choosing between wild plum, bitter almond, or peach.
9 rue du Docteur Fanton.
Feeling bookish? Try the Actes Sud bookshop
Here, the iconic publisher not only has a bookshop, but also a spa, Asian restaurant, and cinema... and is not far at all from the Chapelle du Méjan, one of the Rencontres venues that puts on a quality photo exhibition every summer.
23 place Nina Berberova.
Take a Street Art tour: la Roquette
Set off from the Place Genive and get lost in the winding streets of this attractive working class neighbourhood. You might happen upon Beni’s hearts, Cyklop’s eyes, or Miss.Tic’s famous stencils. Just what your Instagram needs.
Lounge around with a picnic: Les quais du Rhône
As evening begins, the only thing the banks of the Rhone are missing is you, a few friends, and a bottle of chilled Baux de Provence white... The light is sublime, the temperature cooler, and the sky painted pink. Magical.
A cocktail with a view: Atrium Hotel roof terrace
A brand new spot. Barbecues. Cocktails. A pool lined with loungers. Exactly what you need after running around all day snap-happy.
1 rue Emile Fassin, every night from 6pm.
A nocturnal stroll: the ancient town
What opening hours? See the antique theatre and Roman amphitheatre in a whole new light, as night falls. When the stars come out, the ancient stones light up and the town reveals its evening garb.
Arles of the future: LUMA Arles
This former site of SNCF garages is undergoing a radical transformation to play host to several of the Rencontres flagship exhibitions. Overlooked by Frank Gehry’s silver tower, you can explore the space in your own time, stopping for a coffee at the Réfectoire café or the Nonante-neuf pop-up bar.
Boulevard Victor Hugo.
Where to sleep: Trendy nights at the Hôtel du Cloître (18 rue du Cloître) or fantasy nights at Nord Pinus (14 place du Forum).
Where to eat: A Camargue delicacy, like gardiane de taureau (an oxtail stew), at Les Filles du 16 (16 rue du Docteur Fanton) or Japanese-Arles fusion tapas at L’Ouvre-Boîte (22 rue du Cloître)